Old art masters are just that, old. The new generation of artists always seems to have little regard for Legacy. They do not lack education or access to history, but often ambitiously reject the past altogether only to return to it later in creative citations. Internet and social networks deliver immediate satisfaction of work seen and acknowledged. No longer artists have to seek their audience. We live in the age of the audience in search of an artist. One can only wonder how their stories would unfold if legends such as Basquiat had Twitter accounts.
Always on the look out for the original and unexpected, we came across ROBOT, a young artist wrestling with legacies of his own. Hyphenated names aside, we couldn’t resist the parallels between Jean-Carlos Piña and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The latter serendipitously plugged into the network of high profile peers, mentors, and curators… The former went wireless. Either way, art world took immediate notice.
He uses a number of aliases, most frequently a nick-name ROBOT. His work ranges. He manifests the 21st century multimedia multiplatform values in installations that range from painting and performance to photography and video to experimental art of the WTF kind. Although ROBOT is in the nascent stages as an artist, something extraordinary and emotionally charged is evident in his works. They were not intended for anyone in particular. They are byproducts of his immediate states of being: solo, at a loss, in love, in search of kinship, etc. It’s what makes them fascinating to experience firsthand. We get a rare roadmap towards post-globalized adulthood and we have the privilege of connecting the dots. Recently DEPESHA & ROBOT had a heart to heart.
How come you go by various names?
When I interact with people on a daily basis I am one hundred different people. I just started naming a few of them for clarity.
Where do you get your inspiration for your art?
I have no idea… if I did I would put it in a cage. It’s just a release of pent-up energy, emotions… Some people go dance and party. This is my way of letting it out. There is no message in my art. I never took an art class. It is just something that I do.
What kind of art are you drawn to the most?
Definitely video! I grew up obsessively watching MTV and BET. I remember always being hypnotized by music videos and wanting to harness that magic. I think it’s the combinations of music and visuals that really gets me. Also, I am also drawn to the female figure. I used to draw my mom a lot. She moved away when I was four and this has always been a way to remember her, to stay in touch.
How do you style yourself?
I don’t really put much thought into it because if I did I would go insane and never leave my house. So I just always grab and go.
Where are your roots and where are you headed?
I’m originally from the Dominican Republic. I moved to New York when I was ten years old. In a few years I want to travel around the world and make documentaries and music videos. Or maybe my tattoo license and travel around the US in a van and tattoo people I meet along the way.
What role do mythical creatures play in your works?
I think it’s the transformation these characters go through that interests me the most. As a child I was really quiet and timid, so I always looked up to those magical personalities like vampires and witches because I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be powerful, immortal and be able to fly. They were in control. That’s what I wanted to do, to be.
Do you believe that art is therapeutic?
When I was six years old I broke my front teeth by accident and I was bullied for missing front teeth. Later, I was picked on for being gay. I tried to catch bullies off guard retaliating with humor. I fought back with the power of words, not images. Art is definitely therapeutic but I don’t think it heals anything. It just conceals the wounds better.
How do you find or attribute value in/to something?
I’m drawn to anything that has attitude and character. I’m not really big on “beautiful” objects because they fade or bore with time. I’d rather paint a picture of an old scarred face then a super model.
Do you care about money?
I could get canvas from the garbage and paint with my blood but I will still need money for food or rent. There’s not much we can do with out it so we all care about money whether we admit it or not.
How do you think your work/art would change if you become rich overnight?
I probably wouldn’t paint at all and just make documentary films.
Stephan Rabimov & Alexey Timbul